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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • ROSES BY VINCENT VAN GOGH, 1890

Golden Falcon: 1963

Golden Falcon: 1963

"Dulles International Airport, Chantilly, Va., 1958-63. Eero Saarinen, architect. Mobile lounges." A sort of giant rolling jetway (mostly out of frame at left) that carried passengers at Dulles from terminal to plane. The stair truck supported the gangway. 120mm color transparency by Balthazar Korab. View full size.

 

US Airports can start with W, K or N

> * = DCA stands for District of Columbia Airport.
> WNA would have been more accurate, but US airport codes
> can't begin with W (or with K or N).

That's confusing radio call signs with airport identifiers. Radio callsigns within the US all start with W, K or N - that's why the aircraft registration numbers of US airplanes all start with "N", so the aircraft registration can also be the radio callsign.

As far as airports are concerned, there's no rule against using "W", "K" or "N" for the three-letter codes. Most state-licensed airports in Washington, Wisconsin or Wyoming, for example, would have identifiers starting with WA, WI or WY. Similarly, many airports in NY have codes starting in NY if they are smaller state-licensed airports.

Larger airports are assigned three-letter codes which are used by the airlines (although those in the US really have four-letter ICAO identifiers which start with "K" - Los Angeles is really KLAX, Dulles is KIAD, and so on. Most pilot navigation programs use the four-character ICAO identifiers). There are plenty of three-letter airport codes which start with W, K or N - for example Whiteman airport in Los Angeles (WHP), Kanab UT (KNB) or Beaufort SC (NBC), to name three.

720 for sure

Defintely a 720; EAL operated them until about 1964 or until they were supplanted by the 727, of which Eastern was the launch customer. Eastern never operated the 707.

What it is

We know it's not a DC-8 so presumably it's a 720, a smaller version of the 707. Didn't know they ever needed an extra truck to support the mobile lounge ramp-- was that situation temporary?

In August 1963 Eastern had five jet departures a day out of IAD: two DC-8s, two 720s after dark, and this 720, flight 525 BOS-PHL-IAD-MSY-HOU due out of IAD at 1030. (Guess the plane is pointed west, isn't it?)

Three-letter airport codes date from the 1940s-- in the US anyway.

Thoughts about "DIA"

Interesting that DIA for Dulles was being considered many years ago. The new airport in Denver is now DIA. When there were many, many delays in its opening the thought was that DIA really stood for "Doesn't Include Airplanes."

Why it's IAD

When Dulles was under construction the plan was for its code to be DIA (Dulles International Airport). Shortly before opening, however, the Federal Aviation Administration decided that was too close to DCA*, the code for Washington National Airport, and could be especially confusing if handwritten. Not that changing the code has eliminated all confusion. The similarity of "Dulles" and "Dallas," particularly when spoken and/or heard by people with limited English proficiency, has on occasion led to some rather unfortunate mistakes.

One thing about airport codes is that they're almost impossible to get changed. Civic leaders in Sioux City, Iowa have been trying unsuccessfully for years to get their airport's code changed to, well, just about anything other than SUX. As far as I'm concerned they should follow the lead of people in Fresno, who take pride in FAT.

* = DCA stands for District of Columbia Airport. WNA would have been more accurate, but US airport codes can't begin with W (or with K or N).

Great shot!

This is an Eastern Airlines Boeing 707.

Jet Talk

That's a DC-8.

A shaky step

I travelled almost weekly for a while during that period, from Los Angeles to Washington DC. Then, the step from the plane was somewhat shaky and I saw a few passengers balk at making the step while those behind were giving vocal encouragement.

The mobile lounges have evolved over the years, and now many or all have been replaced by underground trains.

At that time, I was working on part of the SABRE computer reservation system and it was at that time all airports started using 3 character mnemonic names. Dulles International Airport got IAD and Los Angeles got LAX.

Speedy Livery

I'll always be a fan of the old horizontal cheatlines on commercial aircraft. Today, airlines use minimalist logos and fonts to adorn their jets, but the old cheatlines just seemed to give the planes a feeling of speed, even while they were sitting still.

That thing got a Hemi in it?

Nice Dodge, in a body style that served them well until 1971.

Strictly prohibited:

Hop-ons.

 
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